The European Parliament together with the permanent representatives of Czechia, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and France agreed to approve the Pact on Migration and Asylum by February 2024, to ensure that the legislation is adopted before the next European elections in May 2024.
In the document, it is stated that the Pact, together with the Common European Asylum System “represent a top priority in the work of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union and both sides should make the necessary efforts and work together as closely as possible, in a spirit of sincere cooperation, towards the adoption of the legislative proposals before the end of the 2019-2024 legislative period”.
The document states that to reach an agreement before February 2024, negotiations between co-legislators should start by the end of 2022.
“Citizens expect solutions on migration. Delaying decisions is not an option” wrote European Parliament President Roberta Metsola in a Tweet.
“For too long we have been pushing for common EU action. A big step forward, creating important momentum to deliver” she added.
However, despite promising to finalise the legislative reforms, no information was given on why this is any more likely than in the past. National governments remain divided on migration and asylum reform, as they have been since the crisis caused by large numbers of migrants arriving in Europe fleeing civil war in Syria in 2015.
Having failed to reach agreement on a radical reform of the EU’s immigration and asylum system in the last legislative term which ended in 2019, the European Commission launched in September 2020 a Pact on Migration and Asylum, whose approval has been delayed by a failure to reach agreement among national governments.
Having tried and failed to persuade EU governments to agree to resettlement quotas, the “voluntary solidarity mechanism” put forward by France in the final weeks of its six month EU presidency earlier this year called for willing EU countries to take in asylum-seekers from those on the bloc’s southern periphery. 13 EU countries gave their support to join the scheme. Ministers have also agreed to provide financial assistance for other relocations to take place.
Around 8,000 relocations have been agreed so far, in line with the Commission’s target of 10,000 asylum seekers being relocated from frontline states such as Greece, Italy and Malta to other EU countries in the first year. If the trial works, it can be renewed on an annual basis.
However, 16 EU countries had proposed a more restrictive course in EU migration policy. In a joint declaration, the EU states called primarily for more robust protection of the EU’s external border to prevent “illegal migration” and a more restrictive return policy.
In the meantime, most competences on border management in the hands of member states. The absence of an harmonised EU migration policy is one of the contributing factors to the significant bureaucratic delays in handling asylum applications.
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